This weekend Nason and I did something a little…crazy.  It was something that needed to be done, but we thought we would have to do it in stages.  But we took a breath, and cashed my paycheck to buy soil and gardening equipment.  And boy did we have fun!

We borrowed our friend’s truck, and went to Home Depot.  We bought so much soil that the fellows who were helping us just loaded a pallet into the truck bed.  We got the fencing we wanted, and the tools we needed, and even had some money left over.  As we left Home Depot, we realized that we had actually done it, and all that is left to do is buy the equipment for a drip system.  So this will be a week spent outdoors, digging trenches and filling them with soil, and starting to grow seeds, and reinforcing our garden fence.  I’m pretty excited, and glad that we did something a little crazy this weekend.

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Today, I got to do something I have been looking forward to all year: I got to make prickly pear jelly! 

First, I had an off road adventure in the Jeep to go and find some of the delicious fruits.  Harvesting prickly pear actually isn’t that bad; even though it’s on a cactus, it’s all a matter of watching where you step (to avoid spines in your boots and pants) and wearing gloves.  I got away with minimal damage and a lot of fruit-actually, I got too much, but I plan on making a syrup this next week to put into waffles and *adult* drinks.  And it was nice because I got to drive the Jeep!  Usually when we go off roading Nason drives, so I took advantage of my time in the desert today and took longer than was necessary, so I could put my own mud on the tires. 

When I got home I texted my mother-in-law a photo of the fruits in the bucket, and she came over shortly afterwards with the girls.  We sliced up enough prickly pear to make a double batch of the recipe I found, and then cooked it up.  We took advantage of the time to catch up and talk, and chase after the girls (they kept themselves entertained with Hide and go Seek, the bamboo in our backyard, and the Nerf guns we keep in the living room).  

We had a couple of mishaps, mostly when the mixture on the stove boiled over, covering my stove top in a 

Oops!

 

sticky mess, but we laughed it off and kept going.  And now there is quite a bit of prickly pear jelly cooling in my fridge!  I can not wait to try it out and see how it ended up this year-based on the juice that Nancy and I both tried, it’s going to be so good!  Thank you to Nancy for coming over and helping me today, the help and company was really nice! 

PS: If you want the recipe I used, I found it here.  Although they say to burn the spines off, I actually found it easier to cut the tips off of the fruit and skin them since I do not have a gas stove.  But, to each his own.  Use whatever method works for you. 

The finished product! (One container missing)

Nason and I just got a futon.  We had been shopping around, and we hadn’t really said anything about it to anyone-it simply wasn’t something that came up in conversation.  Then, out of the blue, our friends Gene and Cecilia offered us their old futon.  At first I was thrown off.  I mean, how did they know we were looking for one?  We hadn’t mentioned it; we were still just browsing the internet for one, and it was sort of a low priority item on our list. 

And then it hit me: I had mentioned it in one of my posts.  It was just a passing comment about the progress on turning the house into a home, about how we were shopping for a futon and some end tables.  But it got us a free futon.

This got me thinking.  Before, I started my blog because I love to write.  I had a million ideas bouncing around in my head and I wanted an outlet to write them down and share them with others.  But I learned something about blogging:  it is so much more than that.

By writing on a public space like a blog, I am sharing a part of my life with others, and other bloggers are sharing their lives with me.  It is such an intimate thing to be able to share stories, thoughts, and passions with other people, and I think it is an amazing way to see into the lives of people who you may not ever meet face to face, but can relate to deeply. 

I think it meets a fundamental human need to be a part of a community, and although it can never take the place of relationships in the ‘real world,’ it can change lives and connect people across the world.  Blogging is a relational tool, and I didn’t really get that until recently.  I think it may change the way I do blogging a little.

I want to say thank you to Gene and Cil for the futon; Nason and I love it, and it’s very cute and comfortable!

I have been longing for a big thunderstorm.  I keep missing the big storms we see in Vail, and I’ve been sad because I had not seen any big rains this summer.  But last night was the first huge storm I have seen this monsoon season, and it didn’t disappoint.  At about 1 this morning I woke up, and I wasn’t sure why.  After a while, I realized that I could hear rain outside my window-a LOT of rain. 

I laid there for a while just listening to it pouring down on our house, the occasional peal of thunder shaking our walls.  I don’t know how long I laid there in the darkness, but it was so peaceful to just be still and listen to the storm.

After a while Nason and I started talking to each other, then we went outside and watched the rain come down from our front porch.  Nason shone a flashlight through the water so we could see how much we were getting, and we were very happy with what we saw.  The rain flooded our front yard a little, and we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to go to work today because the roads by our house are prone to flooding, but everything was fine.  We went back to bed and eventually fell asleep.

As a consequence, I was pretty tired today.  But it was worth it to experience my first real storm of this monsoon season.  I’m hoping it is the first of many, and hopefully the next will be during the hours I’m actually awake.

After UCYC, house sitting, and our trip this past weekend, we are finally home.  Although they have been fantastic, the past three weeks have felt like a marathon, and, quite frankly, I’m glad things are getting back to normal.

It’s nice to be home again, in our own house, living life a little more peacefully.  Now that our big summer plans are done, we have time to actually live in our new house.  Though we started the process of settling in, and we are mostly unpacked, our home plans were put on hold as we went all over Arizona.  So the past couple of days have been nice.  We started getting things ready in the garden, and we now have about half of the chicken wire set, a trench dug, and a game plan for the nasty squirrels that destroyed our first plants.  This morning, we transferred some century plants across the backyard. 

The inside of the house is looking good as well.  Overall the place is cleaner and better than when we moved in.  Right now we are searching for a futon and some end tables to put in our entertainment room and bedroom, and we have plans to paint and tile  in the (hopefully) near future.

It is great to be home.  I love this house, and I especially love the area where we now live.  It is so beautiful, and so full of life.  This morning we saw a family of quail at our bird feeder, as well as finches and thrashers.  There is all sorts of desert wildlife in our own backyard, and, though some of it is troublesome, most of it is interesting and beautiful.  The nights are incredible; we can see all the stars out here from our porch, and it is very quiet and peaceful.  Overall, it is a wonderful place to call home.

PS.  This photo is courtesy of my husband, Nason Simpson

A few months ago, when we initially started looking at houses, Nason and I made a big and risky decision-we started putting my paycheck into savings and began to live solely off of his.  Now, we did not make that much money to begin with, but we still made enough to get what we needed and then some.  We lived well within our means, and so we were pretty comfortable.  However, when we made our decision, that meant losing a third of our budget every two weeks (Nason makes more an hour and works more hours, so he makes about twice as much as me).  This meant we had to drastically alter our lifestyle.  We stopped going to the movies, and we rarely eat at restaurants, and we started (occasionally) using our credit cards to carry us over until the next paycheck.  Now, we really live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes it’s tough.

But, even though it’s difficult, it has actually been beneficial in so many ways.  We communicate more about our finances than we did before.  We are less wasteful, and we are smarter shoppers because we have to be.  Despite taking such a cut in our budget, we are still debt free, and I do not see that changing anytime soon.  And our savings account looks fantastic.  Even though we occasionally use money from savings on projects such as our garden or the trip we are taking this weekend, we consistently put more money in than we are taking out, so our savings account has been steadily growing, which was the initial idea.

Honestly?  I think we have more fun now than we did before.  While we do not go out on dates as often as we used to, we like to go hiking, or spend fun nights at home.  We have two Nerf dart pistols, and we will run around the house shooting each other.  Our life is quieter now, and I like it.

This is our good life-while we are pretty poor, we are incredibly happy, and I honestly think that we are better with our finances now than before.  Having to handle our money differently has led us to be more responsible with what we have, and we are better stewards for it.  Even though our lifestyle has changed, our level of happiness is still the same, if not higher.  That is what the good life should be, right?  I think so.

Our house is slowly becoming our space, a little bit each day.  We have scrubbed walls, picked out paint colors, and even found a free desk via Craigslist to put in our developing home office.  We have been gardening, and weeding, and picking up trash.

But the one thing that kept being pushed aside was the kitchen floor.

This floor is pretty gross, to be blunt.  The linoleum is not very flattering, and there are several cracks and scrapes in it that make it the worst part of this otherwise fantastic room.  And, to top it all off, it was filthy.  We said we would mop before we moved the furniture in, but it didn’t happen.  Then we went to Prescott, and now that we’re back I’ve been staring at it in distaste.

And today, I finally mopped it.

It is still an unflattering color, and it is still cracked.  But it is clean now, and it feels like a little weight has been lifted.  This may seem odd, but for me it was a small victory.  I do not like to clean, and I especially do not like to clean things that other people have made dirty, and that floor was dirty when we moved in.  I kept putting it off because I did not want to do it, and I kept making excuses as to why it could be done another day.  But today I said ‘no more.’  I just grabbed the cleaning supplies and went for it.  And I feel better because of it.

I tend to put off the things I do not want to do, and it is something I am trying to change.  Taking care of the house has been a great tool for relieving some of my tendencies to procrastinate, and I hope that the floor can mark a change in my attitude towards undesirable tasks.